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How to Choose a Paint Sprayer

by Staff Writer

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Painting with a paint sprayer

Consider that even the smallest handheld paint sprayers are capable of applying paint at five gallons per hour, and professional sprayers put paint on a wall at more than a gallon per minute. Whether you're painting acoustic ceilings, the outside of your house or finishing furniture and crafts, an air gun paint sprayer can be an efficient and versatile tool. Choose an air gun paint sprayer based on both your current and projected needs.

Choosing a Paint Sprayer:

  1. Define your needs. As with any air tool, a good paint sprayer can be pricey, but will be an investment for years to come if you need a versatile tool that can handle projected tasks as well as current ones.

  2. Read product specifications. A handheld cup gun sprayer is a great air tool for smaller projects like shutters, crafts and fences, but most cannot spray thicker coatings like waterproofing or elastomeric paints. A small sprayer that holds only 1 quart of paint at a time will be slow going if you're going through 20 gallons to paint the outside of your home.

  3. Look at gas- or electric-powered airless sprayers for the most versatility. These tools come in a wide range of sizes. Most mid-sized machines are equally capable at painting the entire interior and exterior of a home, and spray painting smaller things like doors, trim and shutters. Understand that you will need to purchase extra spray tips to have a range of fan widths and spray patterns for different projects.

  4. Consider a conventional paint gun and hose if you already own an air compressor. The initial cost will be less than buying an airless sprayer because you're not paying for a motor. Conventional sprayers produce a lot of overspray but are excellent for cars, crafts and cabinets as long as you can protect the surrounding area.

  5. Look at High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) sprayers if you are primarily interested in spraying a flawless, mirror-like finish on furniture, trim and cabinets. HVLP sprayers put out a fine, even coat of paint with very little overspray, making them a perfect choice for interior and home workshop use.

  6. Bear in mind some of the sprayer parts need to be replaced routinely. Spray tips and filters wear out with use. You also need mineral spirits to flush the machine in between uses so the inner parts don't rust. Throat seal liquid acts like oil in your car, and keeps the pistons and rings lubricated and smooth, extending the life of the pump.

  7. Purchase accessories for your sprayer to make it even more versatile. Power rollers can be attached to many models to make rolling walls a snap. Pole guns and extended-reach tools allow you to put the tip on an extension pole and spray ceilings and high areas without getting on a ladder. Specialty tips, guns and hoses allow you to customize your sprayer and get the most out of your purchase.

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